Posts Tagged ‘clients’

The Method Behind the Madness of Video Production

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Red Fox Media - Video Production - Birmingham, AL - Burdette Video Shoot 004A few months ago I was working on a video shoot for a client. As we moved our equipment inside and started setting up, my client said, “I had no idea this much was involved in producing a video.” This is a remark I often hear when producing videos. People will comment on the amount of gear we have to carry around with us and at the amount of time it takes to set up and shoot each scene. They talk about our attention to detail when it comes to lighting and blocking camera movements. They marvel at how much footage we shoot just for a thirty-second TV commercial or a three-minute corporate video. Producing high-quality videos is something we take great pride in, but it’s also something that demands a lot of our time and resources.

Even before we roll onto the location for the first day of shooting, our work has been going on, behind the scenes, for a few weeks. There is so much that has to be accomplished during pre-production to ensure that the actual shoot runs smoothly and efficiently. For articles on the importance of pre-production, you can browse through these articles, “Preparing for a Video Shoot,” “Scheduling Your Production,” and “If Only the Flux Capacitor Was Working.” Some of the tasks that demand our time and attention during pre-production include:

  • Creative meetings with the client to go over conceptual ideas
  • Writing a script
  • Revising the script
  • Scheduling the shoot
  • Location scouting
  • Securing locations
  • Casting (if necessary)
  • Hiring the crew
  • Prepping and loading the gear



Depending on the size and complexity of the project, our time spent in pre-production may last as little as five hours, all the way up to forty hours. Once the shooting date arrives and we arrive on location, we have to:

  • Unload the gear
  • Conduct one final walk-through
  • Move furniture to make room for the gear
  • Set up and light
  • Set up the camera
  • Block camera movements
  • Tweak background elements that are in each shot
  • Direct the talent
  • Prep the talent for audio
  • Slate, shoot, and log each take



And this process will repeat itself for every location. Again, our time in production will vary depending on the size and scope of each video project. We might spend as little as 1/2 day on location, but we might spend as much as five to seven days to capture all the footage necessary for the final video.

Once the shoot wraps, we take all the assets back to our office to begin editing. This is a process that largely goes unnoticed, but here are some action items that we must accomplish throughout post-production:

  • Transfer all footage from tapes or external hard drive to the editing system
  • Set up the project and import all assets
  • Go through all the raw footage, shot by shot, and make notes on what’s happening in each scene
  • Mark shots as usable or unusable
  • Begin rough assembly of the video to formulate the narrative structure
  • Record a scratch track of the voice-over to be used temporarily throughout this initial phase
  • Listen to any and all on-camera interviews for relevant and usable sound bites; mark these for use later
  • Insert the interview segments and compile them with the b-roll segments
  • Present the rough edit to the client for notes
  • Make revisions; tighten the edit
  • Make music selections
  • Insert the music
  • Direct the voice-over talent during the recording session
  • Insert the voice-over
  • Mix all audio
  • Create and insert all graphics and titles
  • Present to the client for notes
  • Make additional revisions if necessary
  • Color correct every shot to ensure optimum quality and color accuracy
  • Render and export the final video
  • Deliver to the client



Post-production can, by far, be the most time-consuming aspect of the production process. It’s not uncommon to spend as much as 40 hours on a 3-5 minute video for a client. To date, I believe, the most we have spent in post-production on a project has been 80 hours for a 7-minute promotional video.

I believe that video production is an artistic medium, and, as with all art, doing it well requires a certain amount of time and effort. So, the next time you want to work with a professional video production company, just know that the cameras, the lights, and the familiar call of “Action!” is only the tip of the iceberg.

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Why Clients Should Be On-Set During a Video Production

Monday, June 20th, 2011

MonitorIn my years as a video director, I have worked with clients who want to be on set to monitor and supervise the shoot. I have also worked with clients who prefer not to be on location. They take a more hands-off approach. I certainly appreciate the level of trust I earn with my clients, because that trust gives them a good measure of comfort. They can feel confident when they turn the video production over to me. However, there are definite benefits to having the client on set throughout the production process.

  1. Familiarity – If the client has been the only person to interact with the on-camera talent up to the point of production, having the client on set will give the talent a familiar person with whom he/she has already made a connection. And when the talent sees someone familiar, this will make him/her more comfortable. And when the talent is comfortable, he/she will be more natural on camera. This is especially true when working with non-professional talent.
  2. Plan B – Let’s be honest. Sometimes things don’t go quite as planned during a video shoot, and the director needs to be prepared. When the on-camera interview just isn’t going well, or when certain set-ups are cut from the shot list due to last-minute changes to the location, it’s good to have the client on location. The client can stay up to speed on everything that’s happening and offer up suggestions to the director as to what needs to happen next. After all, the video director is working for the client. The two parties can put their heads together to come up with a viable Plan B when the shoot starts to fall short of pre-production expectations.
  3. Instant Feedback – When the director yells “cut,” he/she can immediately check with the client to ensure that everything being captured meets with the client’s approval. If the individual being interviewed needs to answer in a slightly different way to clarify the context of the subject, then the client can say so. If there’s another question or two that the director didn’t think about, the client can step in and ask it. If there’s a tiny detail that shouldn’t be in the script, the client can omit it before the on-camera spokesperson continues. The video production company may take the lead in developing a concept for the project, but it’s the client that has a more in-depth knowledge of the company, the brand, the product/service, and all the little things that can make a big difference.

Video directors never need to shy away from the thought of having the client on set. The two parties compliment each other and work in tandem toward one common goal.

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Small Rocks Can Transform the World

Friday, April 8th, 2011

James Marshall was a carpenter from New Jersey, born in 1810. In the late 1840s he was hired by John Sutter to build a sawmill near Coloma, California. The sawmill was being built to provide lumber to the Sacramento Valley.

As Marshall and his men worked to build the sawmill in the American River, they soon realized that the water in that particular section was too shallow. There wasn’t enough water coming through to turn the wheel which powered the saw. They had to shut the water off to dig a deeper trench for the water to pass through.

On Monday January 24, 1848, Marshall was inspecting a section of the river below the mill when he spotted shiny metal flakes resting on some exposed bedrock. He took the metal back to Sutter where the two tested the metal privately. It was gold.

Between 1848 and 1850, the population of San Francisco increased from 1,000 to 25,000. People poured into Northern California. Merchants popped up everywhere, supporting the miners with goods and services. And as the gold became more difficult to find, technological advancements helped the miners move and sift through an enormous amount of dirt. The gold rush truly transformed California and, over time, the entire country.

Here are a few applications from this story:

  • Only a small percentage of miners actually struck it rich, and yet people kept coming to California because of the allure that gold has. How can you better market and promote your goods and services in order to generate an increased level of appeal?
  • No one goes into the mine looking for dirt. They go in to look for gold, and yet there’s a lot of dirt that has to be moved in order to reach the gold. Ultimate success for you depends on your level of commitment, patience, and positivity. You will have to dig through some dirt, but don’t stop until you hit the gold.
  • That one speck of gold that Marshall discovered in 1848 was a small ripple that eventually generated a tidal wave of transformation throughout the country. You, your employees, and your company also have the potential to make a big impact on more people than you realize. The small investments you make today in your business can pay enormous dividends in the future. You never know. So, be aware of the kind of brand you are building. Be mindful of the people you surround yourself with. And be careful in how you treat others.
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Time Equals More Than Money

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
MktStClock

Image by Clint120 via Flickr

One of the things I love about video is the way that it can engage an audience. Video consists of images, words, text, music, and motion pictures, all wrapped into one presentation. When executed just right, it captivates like no other medium. And motivating an audience to slow down, spend time with you, and listen to your message will help to create a network of enthusiastic customers, eager to support your brand.

In today’s social media climate, time is the greatest currency you can have. Think about it. Consumers have access to more information than they ever have before. So, companies need ways to encourage those consumers to stop and spend time with their products and services. Because customers want to do their research. They want to get to know a brand. They want to have conversations. They want a forum in which to discuss their needs. And video can create that level of engagement by generating discussion and conversation.

Consider this evolution:
  • The more you can engage potential customers/clients, the more they will talk about you.
  • The more they talk about you, the more your company’s name will spread.
  • The more positive things people hear, the more they will be inclined to spend time with you.
  • And the more time they spend with you, the more they will be inclined to buy from you.
It’s one thing to sell to a customer once or twice, but you want more than that. If you can capture a customer’s time, you will eventually create a following. And that group will become your greatest advocates. They will support you. They will bring others to you. They will sell your products and services for you. That’s what time can do. And video is a great way to get started.
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How To Shoot Great Testimonial Videos

Friday, February 18th, 2011

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We spent this past Wednesday in Tuscaloosa shooting a series of interviews that we will edit together into a testimonial video for a client. Initially we were scheduled to shoot inside the client’s office, but during our initial conversations, it quickly became apparent that the office space would be too small and too bare to make for an aesthetically pleasing backdrop. If you are working with a video production company to create a client testimonial reel for use on your website or for sales presentations, try to find a location that offers plenty of space and a lot of color. Having space while on set allows everyone to work comfortably, but it also gives the cinematographer a chance to add depth to the shot. Visually, it’s not interesting to see someone sitting right up against a wall. It’s more appealing to have a deep background in each shot.

The client secured a house in which to shoot, which turned out to be the perfect location for us. It offered a lot of space and a variety of backdrops from which to choose. When planning your testimonial video shoot, use a different background for each interview. If each customer/client is shot against the same background, it can be jarring visually when each interview is edited together. It might look as though Client A suddenly turns into Client B, because you have placed each person in the same chair, with the same camera angle, and with the same background. Think about the old camera tricks used on the 1960s TV show, Bewitched. With a snap of her fingers, Samantha’s mother would “transform” poor old Darren into a chicken, or some other humiliating thing. Taking advantage of different backgrounds for each interview will help with the transitions from client to client (the above point assumes, however, that you are not incorporating any b-roll into your testimonial video).

After looking at all the options that our location presented to us, we began moving furniture around to set up for the first interview. Be prepared for a lot of furniture moving. Dressing the set, even for a simple interview, requires relocating furniture to clear up anything that might clutter the shot. It also requires the careful placement of lamps, flowers, pictures, books. etc. to dress up the background. This is called art direction. That’s why you need to pad the shooting schedule. Allot roughly 90 minutes for each interview: 30 minutes for set-up, 30 minutes for the interview, and 30 minutes to reset for the next interview. So, if your first interview is scheduled for 9:00am, have the next subject come at 10:30am.

Wednesday’s shoot went extremely well. Our client did a great job of securing the right location, allowing us to move the furniture for the best visual arrangement, and scheduling the talent. The only thing we didn’t count on was the Department of Transportation that started to grind up a large stump right across the street. Fortunately, we were at the end of our final interview.

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